Self-taught electric engineer Al Gadja has committed what some may consider to be historic car heresy, converting his 1939 Dodge truck into an all-electric vehicle (EV). But to you and me, this is the 21st century of hot rodding, and this pre-war pickup has a longer driver range than many brand new EVs found on dealership lots.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that Gadja spent many of his 74 years on this earth working for IBM, despite never getting a college degree. Over his lifetime he built up a wealth of electrical knowledge mostly by learning it himself or going to IBM-provided classes. He’s also a fan of old hot rod pickups, and dragged the 1939 Dodge around the country with him with the hopes of hot rodding it. Then electric cars got popular, and Gadja decided to replace the inline-six engine with an electric drivetrain.

The lithium-ion phosphate battery packs he used line the truck bed and weigh nearly 1,000 pounds. Al claims he can drive about 100 miles between charges with only six hours to top off the battery pack, allowing him to put an impressive 5,000 miles on the odometer in the first year of driving. It took Gadja three years to perform the conversion, and many people don’t even realize it’s electric.

Though the classic Dodge truck lacks power steering, it does have LED lighting, a digital gauge cluster, and the electric motor transfers power through the original three-speed manual transmission. This is a homemade hot rod of the highest caliber, the vanguard of a new tradition of shade tree mechanics electrifying classic vehicles with powerful and practical drivetrains. Here’s a YouTube video that you should definitely check out if you’re into this sort of thing:

I have a long list of classic cars I’d like to convert into EVs, starting with my 1969 Mercury Cougar. What’s at the top of your list? Please leave us a comment below and let us know!

Source | Image: The Lextington Herald-Leader/Charles Bertram

Source | Video: alegatorlex via YouTube